Sweet Onion Mac & Cheese

Sweet Onion Mac & Cheese

1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup canola oil, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 Red Dog Farm sweet onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
2 ounces fontina, grated
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice flour (or cornstarch)
1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain it, run it under cold water, toss it with the olive oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and toss to coat with the fat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, sprinkle the onion with salt and pepper, and cook, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is golden brow. Puree the onion in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in a blender, and set aside.

Heat the remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly, and appears to have grown in volume. Increase the heat to medium, and slowly whisk in the warm milk. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until it thickens.

Add the cheese to the sauce by 1/2-cup measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition. Stir in the onion puree, and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

While the sauce simmers, heat the remaining canola oil in a small saucepan. Coat the shallot slices with the rice flour, shaking off any excess. Fry the shallot slices for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the shallots from the oil with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.

To serve, stir the sauce, chives, and parsley into the pasta. Cook over low heat until the pasta is hot and coated with the sauce. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with some of the fried shallots.